Schools remember River Wear tragedy teenagers

Washington School pupils Sharon burns and Charlotte Creighton pictured looking at the the special display in their school to their fellow pupil and friend Toni-Beth Purvis.
Washington School pupils Sharon burns and Charlotte Creighton pictured looking at the the special display in their school to their fellow pupil and friend Toni-Beth Purvis.
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TWO teenagers who died tragically are being fondly remembered by their schools.

Washington School and Oxclose Academy are honouring the memories of Tonibeth Purvis, 15, and Chloe Fowler, 14, who drowned during the school holidays in July, with “suitable” memorials.

Washington School, where Tonibeth, of Barmston, was a student, allowed friends and fellow pupils to decide how they would like to pay tribute to the teen, who was dubbed a “hero” after jumping into the River Wear near Fatfield to try to save Chloe.

The girls had been spending time with friends when Chloe entered the water to “cool off” and got into trouble.

Tonibeth went in after Chloe to help her.

Following a three-hour search by the emergency services, both bodies were recovered.

Their funerals were held a day apart last month.

Executive head teacher of Washington School, John Hallworth, said: “We held a special memorial assembly for Tonibeth, which featured a special poem which had been adapted and was recited.

“And we are going to open a book of remembrance and condolence, which will be in a central part of the school for pupils to sign.

“It will then be moved into reception and put in a display case with a photograph of Tonibeth and a copy of the poem.”

John said pupils have behaved with “exceptional respect” in choosing how to honour the teenager, who would have been entering her final school year.

An assembly to honour Tonibeth, who would have been entering her final school year at the start of the new academic year, has also been held in her honour.

He added: “There were of course a few quiet tears from some of Tonibeth’s close friends, but the school has been very impressed with the mature attitude displayed by students who knew Tonibeth, and those who didn’t.

“Tonibeth will live on in all of our memories.” The teenager, who was one of five siblings, and described as “fun-loving” and “happy-go-lucky” attended Oxclose Academy before moving to Washington School.

Chloe, of Shiney Row, attended Oxclose Academy, and headteacher Tony Cunningham said its pupils are in the process of deciding what they feel is the most “appropriate” memorial for the “popular” girl.

The 14-year-old, who was one of eight children, has been described as “gorgeous” and “a mother figure”.

“We are going to have a memorial for Chloe,” he said.

“However, what it will be is still in discussion with the children.

“It is for the children to decide, so we are asking them what they would prefer and think is the most suitable way to remember her.”